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Friday, August 24, 2012 - Page updated at 03:00 p.m.
'Celeste and Jesse Forever' is a different kind of romantic comedy
By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times movie critic
Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are the kind of couple who seem made for each other. We see them in a montage of happy photographs; hear them in a restaurant doing cute funny voices (the kind only found charming by the people actually doing them); watch the obvious, warm affection between them. And then we learn, very early in "Celeste and Jesse Forever," that they're getting divorced. This is, as a friend says in the film, very weird; except that she expresses it a little more colorfully.
But "Celeste and Jesse Forever" quickly establishes itself as a different kind of romantic comedy: one that starts at the end and tries to make sense of itself. These two friends met young, fell in love early and then grew in different directions. She became focused on her career; he became fuzzy and unambitious. Though she wonders whether she can truly be with someone who doesn't have a checking account, or dress shoes, Celeste can't quite let go of Jesse, and they still live together even though they've separated. Can a spouse become a friend, these young people wonder; and can you get divorced yet stay together?
Populated with an appealing cast of young actors and shot with casual intimacy, "Celeste and Jesse Forever" sometimes gets a little too cute; like voices in the restaurant, there are scenes for which a little goes a long way. But the screenplay, written by Jones and Will McCormack (who plays a small role in the film), is crammed with scenes that feel utterly true. "Why couldn't you change for me?" a quiet Celeste asks Jesse, after he's told her of his plans to move on and change his life. You realize, midway through the movie, that this couple has snuck up on you — that you want them to be happy. That's what all good romantic comedies do; "Celeste and Jesse," refreshingly, does it a little differently.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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